Two upcoming three-day workshops set at Overton will address the needs of novice ranchers, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle expert.

The "2008 Pasture and Livestock Management Workshop for the Novice" will be held first March 25-27, then again April 1-3. The course is designed for those just starting in the cattle business or those considering starting, said Dr. Jason Cleere, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist.

"From introductory soils to fertilization strategies to stocking rate assessments to supplementation to vaccinating cattle, the workshop will cover most of the basics of forage and beef cattle production," Cleere said. Held at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, attendance is limited to 50 people for each workshop, to allow for one-on-one interaction with AgriLife agricultural scientists and professors, Cleere said.

"Past alumni of the program note that attending the workshop was one of the wisest intellectual and economic investments that they have made since getting in the cattle business," said Dr. Monte Rouquette, Texas AgriLife Research forage scientist and one of the course instructors.

"The focus of the program is how to get started in ranching and pasture management based on research-tested, practical information," said Dr. Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension forage specialist and another workshop instructor. "We start with the assumption that our audience has limited hands-on management experience, and they want to increase their 'comfort zone' with pasture-animal decisions."

By "hands-on," Redmon means about half of each three-day course is spent in the field with how-to demonstrations of essential skills such as planting, calibrating sprayers, soil testing, castrating, dehorning, and vaccination of calves, stocking strategies, pasture management and many other topics, he said.

AgriLife Research scientists also will give tours of the various forage and grazing sites at the center and show how theory is carried to actual practice, Cleere noted.

Though registration is $350 per person, some past alumni have found the instruction so valuable, they return a second time for a "refresher course," Rouquette said.

The registration includes two evening meals, including a ribeye steak dinner, two lunches, break refreshments, a binder of educational materials and social functions where workshop participants can share management experiences, Cleere said.

"Three years ago we had to add a second workshop because of demand from participants, and the 2008 workshops are already both filling up fast," he said. To register, send a check or money order to: Texas AgriLife Research, P.O. Box 200, Overton, TX 75684. More information can be found at http://overton.tamu.edu/grazingschool.htm or by contacting Jennifer Lloyd at 903-834-6191 or jllloyd@ag.tamu.edu .